By Chuck Reherman, Sports Editor – The playoffs may be two weeks away, but Friday night will have a “playoff atmosphere” as well as playoff implications.
Yukon will take aim on strengthening a playoff berth chance as the Millers host Edmond Santa Fe in the biggest 6AI-1 game for both teams. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Miller Stadium.
Both teams come into the matchup with a 2-2 district record, a 4-4 overall record and the same number of district points (0). The teams are also similar in offense and defense. Santa Fe has outscored Yukon by 15 points overall (241-226), but has given up more points (251-243).
The winner of this game basically will secure the fourth spot in the district race. The loser would have to pull off an upset of one of the top three teams, then go to tiebreakers and points to get in.
A win would end a three-year drought of making the playoffs for the Millers, who had a string of seven straight before it was snapped in 2014. YHS is also looking to end a six-game losing streak to the Wolves. Santa Fe won 28-24 last year. The Millers last won in 2010, 39-19.
The Wolves come into the game after losing 64-23 to Westmoore last week. The Millers lost 49-7 to Jenks.
“This is the biggest game of the year for us,” YHS head coach Jeremy Reed said. “This is a playoff game basically. This is the week we need to bring it as far as players, coaching, community, this is the week we need to show up and represent who we are and wear that red. We need it to be a red-out type of night.
“I talked to our team yesterday and it is exciting to play games of this magnitude at the end of October,” Reed said. “It is kind of why you play a football season, to be playing big games. I fully expect us to be locked in all week from a preparation standpoint. And come out and play our best game of the year. That is what we as coaches expect and that is what our players expect.
“I would also expect nothing less than a packed stadium on our side,” he said. “Because when is the last time we had an opportunity in Yukon to say hey, we win and we are in the playoffs. We don’t need help from anyone else, we control our own destiny. That I think would be exciting for anyone who calls themselves a Miller and we know we can use the advantage in the ball game.”
“I don’t think we will have to do much to get the players ready for the game. We have mention that we control our own destiny to be able to play in week 11. How many teams have gone from 0-10 to the playoffs in one year in class 6A, I doubt there has been very many. So, what a neat opportunity we have for our people to do. You don’t need much more motivation than that.”
The Millers will face a Santa Fe team that is athletic and possesses speed and quickness as well as size.
Mbari Snoddy and Kameron Johnson lead the running game and quarterback Kanan Hansen leads the balanced attack. He is the younger brother of Justice Hansen, who gave the Millers fits for three years as the Wolves’ quarterback.
“Santa Fe is very, very athletic. You can’t watch any clips and not sewe the complete athleticism they possess. They have played two very good opponents the last two weeks. Obviously, those two teams have made a lot of people look silly. They are 4-4 just like us. They have struggled with the teams we have struggled with, and put away the teams we have also. It is pretty balanced, I expect to see a good football team and know they we will have to very well and know they we will have to make them play very well.
“Santa Fe would rather run the football,” he said. “They will do a lot of run-pass option stuff. They have a really, good tailback, he is a good football play with speed and power. They would much rather hand it to him, but they do build things around that RPO, so if you are trying to get an extra hat in there they can advantage of you elsewhere.
“They don’t have as big a front line as we have seen,” he said. “But, they have good size and they are quick and fast.”
The Millers went from their best offensive performance one week to their worst the next week. Reed sees his offense as bouncing back.
The Millers had only 192 yards rushing last week at Jenks and although starting quarterback Perry Olsen is a game time decision, the Millers feel they can move the ball on the Santa Fe defense.
“I think we will bounce back,” Reed said. “The players were pretty disgusted with our production. I felt our side of the ball didn’t help us winning the game. When your defense gets you a stop and a turnover inside their 40, you don’t go backward 30 yards.
“We know what our failures were and what we need to do to fix them,” he added. “I fully expect our offense to come back in a big way.”